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Lovlina assures India of first boxing medal at Tokyo Olympics

PTI Tokyo | Updated on July 30, 2021

Upstages former world champion Nien-Chin Chen of Chinese Taipei to enter the semifinals

Debutant Lovlina Borgohain (69kg) assured India of its first boxing medal at the ongoing Olympic Games when she upstaged former world champion Nien-Chin Chen of Chinese Taipei to enter the semifinals here on Friday.

To fight Busenaz Surmeneli

The 23-year-old Assam boxer prevailed 4-1 to make the last-four where she will square off against reigning world champion Busenaz Surmeneli of Turkey, who hammered Ukraine's Anna Lysenko in her quarterfinal bout.

Borgohain, a two-time world championship bronze-medallist and the first female boxer from Assam to qualify for the Games, displayed tremendous calm in the face of a plucky opponent, who had beaten her in the past. She was aggressive to start with, followed it up with a tremendous counter-attacking game and kept her defence tight in the final three minutes to emerge triumphant.

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“She stuck to the plan of counter-attacking and taking advantage of her height. She had tried being aggressive with this girl in the previous bout and lost. So this time, we told her aap khade raho, usko aane do," national coach Mohammed Ali Qamar told PTI. “And what a cool mind she displayed, never got excited. Never tried to barge in. She executed the plan to perfection. Had she tried to go on offensive, she would have ended up getting hit,” he said.

The youngster, who was laid low by Covid-19 last year and missed a training trip to Europe because of it, let out a huge scream after the referee raised her hand, pent up emotions finally getting the better of her. She had caught the infection while visiting her ailing mother Mamoni Borgohain, who underwent a kidney transplant last year. Her father Tiken is a small-time businessman and her elder sister are also kick boxers.

Starting out as kick boxer

Borgohain started out as a kick boxer herself before Sports Authority of India coach Padum Boro, while scouting for talent in Assam's Golaghat district, noticed her. He introduced her to boxing and she took to it like fish to water, winning a bronze medal in her debut world championship in 2018, following it up with another bronze the next year. She is also a two-time Asian Championships bronze-winner.

Raised in Golaghat's Baro Mukhia village, Borgohain eventually moved to Guwahati to realise her boxing dreams. India's previous boxing medals have come through Vijender Singh (2008) and M C Mary Kom (2012). Both of them had won bronze medals and Borgohain would look to better that.

Earlier, Simranjit Kaur (60kg) lost to Thailand's Sudaporn Seesondee in the pre-quarterfinals to make an early exit from the Games here. The 26-year-old Indian, seeded fourth, went down 0-5 despite a gritty performance. She was impressive in the opening round and seemed to have caught Seesondee on the back-foot with her measured approach, sticking to a counter-attacking strategy. However, the judges ruled unanimously in favour of the Thai, causing Simranjit to be a tad reckless in the second round.

The Indian paid for the hyper-aggressive approach in the first few seconds itself when Seesondee managed to connect some eye-catching left hooks. The defensive errors in the second put paid to Simranji’'s chances and even though she gave it her all in the third round, it needed nothing short of a demolition job to get over the line. However, that was not to be as she bowed out following a unanimous verdict.

The 29-year-old Thai is a two-time world championships medallist and also won a silver in the 2018 Asian Games.

Published on July 30, 2021

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